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Watersheds and People

How do you fit into your watershed?
Wherever you live in North Dakota you are in a watershed. Your watershed may be covered with towns, industrial areas, or farmland. Any excess nutrients, sediments, and pollutants in your watershed are carried by runoff to surface waters.

You and the other people who live in the watershed potentially influence the water quality in nearby streams and lakes depending on how careful your are in your day-to-day activities.

Understanding that actions on land affect water quality should lead you to cast a critical eye on many

common activities such as, gardening, lawn care, automobile maintenance, farming, and ranching. These and many other activities can contribute excess nutrients, sediment, and pollutants to the surface waters in your watershed.

What are the results of human activity in your watershed?
The by-products of our activities can degrade nearby waters when we’re not careful. Excess nutrients increase algae and weed growth. Sediments carry nutrients and cloud the receiving water, making the water less pleasant for recreation. Pollutants carried from the watershed can harm fish populations and plant life in lakes and streams. In some situations, these pollutants contaminate well water and other drinking water sources.

What can you do for your watershed?

  1. Minimize erosion by adopting practices that slow the flow of water over your property.

  2. Reduce excess nutrients that could wash off your land.

  3. Collect waste oil and other automotive wastes to be recycled, rather than letting them run on to the ground.

What Practices Reduce Runoff?
In rural areas you can:

  1. Practice contour farming.

  2. Use conservation tillage.

  3. Practice crop rotation.

  4. Install grassed waterways.

  5. Plant filter strips around feedlots.

  6. Retire highly erodible land.

  7. Practice sound pesticide and fertilizer use.

  8. Delay tilling and fertilizing until spring.

  9. Recycle agri-chemical containers.

  10. Construct diversion dikes or channels around feedlots.

  11. Recycle fluids from vehicle and machinery.

In urban areas you can:

  1. Maintain plant cover to reduce runoff.

  2. Mulch gardens and exposed soil.

  3. Terrace land to slow runoff.

  4. Direct runoff to areas where it will soak into the soil.

  5. Minimize pavement and impermeable surfaces.

  6. Minimize soil disturbance at construction sites.

  7. Maintain septic systems.

  8. Use low- or no-phosphate soaps.

  9. Recycle automotive fluids.